Newbiggin by the Sea’s Rocket House built in 1866 and, after restoration, opening to visitors August Bank Holiday 2017
The Rocket House is a small but neglected part of Newbiggin's maritime heritage. It is an early example of a building specifically built to house life saving apparatus used when conditions prevented the lifeboat from deploying. The Rocket House is built onto the rear of Newbiggin’s Lifeboat House, the oldest continuously operated lifeboat house in the UK.
Rocket Houses became a vital part of seafaring rescues. A rocket with a line attached was fired from the shore to stranded sailors and passengers on ships that had run aground.The shipwrecked mariners would then be brought safely to shore in a breeches buoy life ring.
Between 1856 and 1909 some 173,528 lives were saved from shipwrecks off the UK coast – 17,446 using rocket fired lines.
According to Historic England “despite having been built in their hundreds around the coast, Rocket Houses are rare survivals nationally”. Newbiggin’s Rocket House was 150 years old in 2016 and the NHP would like not only to restore the building but also to equip and interpret it much as it would have been in the 19th C. This will provide a unique opportunity for both visitors and school children to appreciate and understand the role of the local Volunteer Life Saving Brigade and the countless lives they have saved.
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and other funders.
Restoration of the Rocket House has been made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have also received funding and support from the Sir James Knott Trust, Newbiggin Town Council, County Councillor Liz Simpson and AkzoNobel Ashington. The restoration work has been overseen by Hugh Massey, Conservation Architect. The Newbiggin Heritage Partnership would like to thank all our funders and other supporters without whom the Rocket House and the vital role it played in saving lives at sea was in danger of being lost forever.
Newbiggin Heritage Partnership (NHP)
The NHP is a community-based organisation that six years ago led the development and opening of the award-winning Newbiggin Maritime Centre. The development of the Rocket House forms part of the NHP’s long-term goal to record, interpret and make more widely accessible the heritage of Newbiggin and, in particular, its links with the sea.